Courting these days

“…do you know the new way of courting?” … “No,” replied Princess Mary. “To please Moscow girls nowadays one has to be melancholy.”

…She adopted the tone of one who has suffered a great disappointment, like a girl who has either lost the man she loved or been cruelly deceived by him. Though nothing of the kind had happened to her she was regarded in that light, and had even herself come to believe that she had suffered much in life. … Boris, entered more deeply into Julia’s melancholy, and with these she had prolonged conversations in private on the vanity of all worldly things, and to them she showed her albums filled with mournful sketches, maxims, and verses. … Boris sketched two trees in the album and wrote: “Rustic trees, your dark branches shed gloom and melancholy upon me.” On another page he drew a tomb, and wrote: “Death gives relief and death is peaceful. Ah! from suffering there is no other refuge.” Julia said this was charming. “There is something so enchanting in the smile of melancholy,” she said to Boris, repeating word for word a passage she had copied from a book. “It is a ray of light in the darkness, a shade between sadness and despair, showing the possibility of consolation.” In reply Boris wrote these lines: “Poisonous nourishment of a too sensitive soul, Thou, without whom happiness would for me be impossible, Tender melancholy, ah, come to console me, Come to calm the torments of my gloomy retreat, And mingle a secret sweetness With these tears that I feel to be flowing.” …For Boris, Julia played most doleful nocturnes on her harp. Boris read Poor Liza aloud to her, and more than once interrupted the reading because of the emotions that choked him. Meeting at large gatherings Julia and Boris looked on one another as the only souls who understood one another in a world of indifferent people.
Leo Tolstoy

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